ECOWAS says it is considering lifting sanctions in Mali if a compromise is quickly found on the duration of the transition.
In a last-ditch effort, Malian transitional president Assimi Goita agreed to a 24-month transition at the extraordinary Ecowas summit held on Friday, March 25, in Accra, Ghana. The Malian head of state ‘deplored’ the fact that this revised proposal on political and institutional reforms was not accepted by the West African organisation.
While a firm No is not served to the Malian transition authorities, the regional organisation is leaning towards a ‘complementary transition of 12 to 16 months,’ in addition to the two years already elapsed. The positions are getting closer since the Malian junta had initially proposed a transition period of 36 months and then 29 months, all of which were rejected by Ecowas.
While the embargo imposed on Mali on January 9 is still in place, the Conference of Heads of State is opening the door to dialogue to reach an agreement quickly. As such, it will again send its envoy, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, to finalise discussions with the transition authorities on the timetable. If the two parties can agree on the duration of the transition, which is still possible, a lifting of the sanctions will be decided quickly.
The Conference regretted, however, the unavailability of the President of the Malian transition to honour in person the invitation extended to him to participate in the summit to find a solution to the current crisis in Mali. This decision was moderately appreciated by Ecowas, which transformed its conclave of Heads of State into a closed-door meeting, effectively ruling out any participation by the Malian delegation led by Abdoulaye Diop.
In addition, the Court of Justice of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (Uemoa) ordered the day before this extraordinary summit of Ecowas, the suspension of sanctions imposed in January on Mali, on the grounds that these sanctions could lead to ‘consequences that are difficult to repair in view of their social, economic and financial impact.’